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Not that there isn’t already a mountain of evidence out there, but if you’re looking for cold hard proof that Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is the darling of the national media, you would have done well to attend a panel discussion on “college completion and the American future” today at the Washington Hilton’s International Ballroom.

Meet the PressDavid Gregory was the moderator and kicked things off like this:

Before we begin, we have Chancellor Michelle Rhee here, and I just want to say publicly what I say privately, which is, thank you for what you’ve done, thank you for your commitment, for your leadership, for your stick-to-it-ness and for the result that you have achieved. Washington, D.C. will miss you greatly… But your commitment to kids and to education endures and there will be a great many people lining up to support you and your efforts.

Whoa!

LL isn’t saying Gregory isn’t entitled to his opinion, but it’s hard to imagine he would dare say something like that publicly about any other polarizing national figure.With Rhee, for some reason, the national media feels free to gush. (To be fair, Gregory did ask what LL thought were some pointed questions to Rhee about how sustainable her reform efforts are—since she’s out of a job after tomorrow.)

More interesting was Gregory’s exchange with an guy in the audience who, instead of asking Rhee or the other panelist about education issues, gave Gregory da business for letting politicians get away with not discussing what the man said were the important issues, including “the need for taxes,” a “bloated military budget” and a broken down two-party system.

“I listen to Meet the Press and I think a lot of people in the room, we end up turning it off, because during the election season, you’re letting politicians get away with softball answers and you’re not really forcing the conversations,” said the man, who didn’t give his name.

Well, sweet readers, Gregory wasn’t going to let this off-topic heckling roll off his back.

“Sir, sir, you know what, with all due respect, I don’t know which program you’re watching because every week—I’m not going to get in a debate with you—I ask about taxes, I ask about how you pay for taxes,” Gregory said, later adding: “And by the way sir, I’ve also dedicated the program to talking about education and about reform as well.”

At this point, the man tried to interject, but Gregory wouldn’t have it: “No, sir, I get the last word here, you asked the question… Just because people don’t listen or don’t take action behind it is not something I can directly control.”

The man finally got a word in edgewise, and said: “I like the fact that you ask them, but you know, when we hear the answers they seem to be soundbite answers.”

To which Gregory gave this soundbite answer: “You know what sir, you know where your recourse is—Election Day.”

Moral of the story: If you must critique MTP, do so gently, with Gregory out of earshot.

Photo by pvsbond via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license